The first parenting book I read was 11 years ago when I was pregnant with my first son Ollie. It was the ever so popular ‘What to Expect When your Expecting’ by Heidi Murkoff. See!? The training all starts before they are even born! I mean, it’s good to learn about what you are going through and of course what to expect but this book scared the crap out of me! I looked up every little pregnancy symptom I was experiencing and learned what foods to avoid, what to eat, how to stand, how to sleep…you name it. Each week, each month tracking his progress inside of me.
Then when he was born I had a copy of ‘The Baby Book’ by William Sears, Martha Sears, Robert Sears and James Sears…ie. The “perfect” family. This book told you how to do EVERYTHING from birth to 2 years old. It was my bible at the time. In the beginning it was about sleeping, co-sleeping (was there any sleeping??), breastfeeding, thumb-sucking, vomiting and rashes. From there, as he got older it was when to walk, talk and grab things. Then the really scary heady things came into play around 2 years old…independence, consciousness, their role in this world and if you don’t do it right then your kid is going to be a wreck and it’s all your fault!! I started to not like this book anymore. Not because it wasn’t a great book or because I disagreed with anything it was saying…it just felt very overwhelming…it felt a lot like pressure. To top it all off the summer that Ollie was a new-born the Mosquitoes had Wes Nile and SARs was full-blown. Needless to say I was even nervous to go outside!!
I had read a lot of parenting books throughout Ollies childhood. Learning what he was learning and worrying about everything I could potentially do wrong. How was he measuring up with all the charts? I didn’t read any books when my second son Carson came along 6 years later. I don’t know if it was because I had already gone through having a baby that made me more relaxed, my age or not reading the books…probably all of them but I felt like I was a happier and better parent for having a more relaxed attitude. Since having my third son a little over a year ago, I feel like I have a good grip on parenting and my own style of parenting. I’m not saying I still don’t worry about my boys or that I’m sure I’m not messing them up but I’ve got a thicker skin now and believe dysfunction gives kids character anyway.
I’m back to reading parenting books again but the ones I read now follow my idea of the type of parent I am and want to be. Not the kind that make me feel bad that I don’t particularly like to play with my kids (I’d much rather talk, push them on the swings, read and listen to music ), or fetch things for them, or put a loony in a jar every time I say a bad word (The kids would empty my change purse!!). In the world of helicopter parenting I say “ Relax, put your feet up and enjoy a good book!!
Here are few excerpts from a few of my favourites so far.
This is from Tom Hodgkin sons ‘The Idle Parent’
THE MANIFESTO OF THE IDLE PARENT
We reject the idea that parenting requires hard work
We pledge to leave our children alone
We reject the rampant consumerism that invades children from the moment they are born
We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals
We drink alcohol without guilt
We reject the inner Puritan
We don’t waste money on family days out and holidays
An idle parent is a thrifty parent
An idle parent is a creative parent
We lie in bed for as long as possible
We try not to interfere
We play in the fields and forests
We push them into the garden and shut the door so we can clean the house
We both work as little as possible, particularly when the kids are small
Time is more important than money
Happy mess is better than miserable tidiness
Down with school
We fill the house with music and merriment
We reject health and safety guidelines
We embrace responsibility
There are many paths
More play, less work
I do disagree with a few of his points ie. We reject health and safety guidelines and I don‘t get to lie in bed as much as possible (although I am working on it)… but you get the gist of it.
This is from Free Range Kids by Skenazy
“Not that facts make any difference. Somehow, a whole lot of parents are just convinced that nothing outside the home is safe. At the same time, they’re also convinced that their children are helpless to fend for themselves. While most of these parents walked to school as kids, or hiked the woods — or even took public transportation — they can’t imagine their own offspring doing the same thing.”
“Do you ever…let your kid ride a bike to the library? Walk to school? Make dinner? Or are you thinking about it? If so, you are raising a Free-Range Kid! Free-Rangers believe in helmets, car seats, seat belts — safety! We just do NOT believe that every time school age kids go outside, they need a security detail.”
Here’s to common sense parenting in uncommonly overprotective times!
This book made me want my boys to grow up in the type of childhood that I grew up in…we were free-range kids and still alive to talk about it!!
And from the book I just finished Mean Moms Rule Denise Schipani
“Let me explain the “mean” for you, in case you were under the impression that I never hug my boys (I possibly do this too much, as evidenced by the fact that they routinely try to wiggle away from my embraces and especially my sloppy kisses, the urchins), or that I advocate for children to work in coal mines (it’s illegal! Plus, no coal mines in my area!). I say “mean” because my approach often bucks the prevailing parenting trend, which you could call helicopter-y or indulgent (I prefer my own technical term, “squishy”). It’s mean because it’s not easy. Because it’s focused on the end game, not the here-and-now (and anyone who has kids’ll tell you, they are all about the here and now).”
“I’ve heard tell that my kids are good kids, which is satisfying to hear (then there are the times they’re decidedly not, but that’s another story). I can’t take all the credit for that, but credit isn’t what I’m after. I’m after growing my boys up to stand on their own two feet, to use their own fine minds, to not need me anymore (see? Mean). I’m after adding two more good men and good citizens and independent people to a world that, it looks like, needs them.”
And by the way, I got a good laugh when I showed Ollie the title of this book. He was in utter shock that there was actually a book called ‘Mean Moms Rule’. I had PROOF that I ruled!! And that meant that my kids ruled too!! But I didn’t need a book to tell me that.
I would love to hear which books you’ve enjoyed!!